Slow Brain Development and Growth Link Established In Premature Babies

A recent research paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine shows that the slow growth patterns of premature babies is linked to the proportionally slow brain development. The study was conducted by Canadian researchers at the pediatric division of University of British Columbia (UBC).

The Study

Slow Brain Development and Growth Link Established In Premature BabiesFor the study, 95 premature infants born earlier than their expected delivery date by 8 to 16 weeks were considered. These babies were born in the hospital between 2006 and 2009. The procedure involved analysis of the MRI scans of the brain of these infants. The analysis involved measuring the water movement patterns in the brain which under normal circumstances keep changing as the brain matures. The first scan was taken in between 30th and 33 weeks and the second was taken between 38 to 42 weeks. The cerebral cortex region was under focus and 15 anatomical sub-regions in the cerebral cortex formed a part of the investigation.

Analysis of the Research

Physical parameters such as length, weight and head size of the babies were also measured and documented. The physical measurements were then compared with the brain scan measurements. The analyses lead to interesting results. It was established that physical growth parameters of these babies are as slow as the brain development too. In other words, the brain and body development are in tandem and this could lead to new discoveries in the field of premature infants’ brain development.

Conclusion of the Study

Dr. Steve Miller, the head of this research team has opined that the research can help optimize neurological development of such babies. The final conclusion of the study was that avoiding impairment of growth as part of the neonatal care could be the key to normal cortical development. It plays an important part in reducing neurological disabilities associated with premature birth.


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